I got rid of a lot of stuff today…
…and I kind of feel like shit about it.
My family has a lot of stuff. Like, a LOT of stuff. We have so much stuff we don’t need and haven’t needed for years, but have never gotten around to throwing/giving away. We have a box dedicated to old cables and cell phones that serve no use. We have a ton of… junk.
My sister and I have boxes of stuff in the garage. It’s stuff we had when we were little, and as we grew up, we weren’t ready to give away. It’s been sitting in boxes in the garage ever since. It’s always been easier for me to give stuff up than my sister. I’m not heartless or anything; a lot of things do have sentimental value to me. It’s just easier for me to decide which items hold the most value and be able to get rid of the rest.
But today was hard.
I’m 22 now. Not super old or anything, but old enough to have years of stuff in the garage.
It all started because I was selling a couple of video games I don’t play anymore, and wanted to find the boxes for them. They’ve been sitting in a plastic bag for years because it takes up less space, but I’ve always just stored the boxes somewhere. They were in my nightstand drawer for the longest time, but they weren’t there, so I looked in the garage.
We have this back room in the garage that was supposed to be a TV/entertainment room, but just became a storage room once my sister and I moved out for college, and I moved back in. So boxes of stuff I brought back from my apartment are just sitting in the TV room, full of stuff. I remembered that I’d brought the cases to college with me for whatever reason, so I looked in every single box in that room. No luck.
As I was looking through those boxes, though, I realized just how much stuff I had that I never used. I went upstairs and got a trashbag, but started in this chest I have full of stuff I use from time to time. There’s still a lot of stuff I don’t use in there, so it was a good place to start. The cases were in there, by the way.
I found manuals to stuff (I kept manuals for basically everything that came with a manual), art projects from high school that I always fucking hated but my mom made me keep because she apparently liked them (even though she never did anything with them and they ended up sitting in a chest, not even visible), cards, stuff that I was given that I never liked but could never find the heart to give away…
The cards were hard to whittle down. My grandmother passed away a couple of years ago, but she used to send christmas and birthday cards every year. Cards are just overpriced pieces of cardstock paper with generic phrases on them, but seeing her signature was hard. It made seeing every signature, even if it wasn’t hers, hard to get rid of. I thought that maybe one day those cards would be the only thing I had to remind me of whoever signed it. Because at least they took the time to think of me and send me a card in the first place.
“If you ever think of me, send me a postcard. Just say, ‘Having a wonderful time!’ I’ll understand.” — The Awful Truth
I moved into the garage where I found more of my awful high school art class pieces, some of which were ceramics. I tried not to glance twice at them as I set them down beside the trashbag. I looked through the boxes in the TV room again before going to a couple of boxes of things I had when I was really young.
Those things were so much harder to move on from. Even though I forget about so much of the stuff until I look at it again, when I do, it brings back memories of my childhood.
Just a couple of days ago I remembered that I had this purple rock, like the ones you would find at a souvenir shop. It had been smoothed out so it was thin and flat. One night when I was young, I got angry and threw a tantrum. As an act of rebellion, I threw that rock down on the ground. I wanted to show my parents I was so upset, so I threw it down again and again until it broke. I wanted them to see how upset I was that I was willing to break something that was my absolute favorite, though I doubt they knew I liked it so much.
Earlier today, I found another purple one while going through my boxes. It wasn’t flat like the other one, but it was still purple and I got it the same day I got the other. It was with a ton of other rocks that my dad had brought home from one of his trips one time. He liked bringing rocks home and showing them to me. He always asked if I wanted to keep them and always said it was okay if I didn’t, but I always had a deep-down feeling that it would make him sad in some way if I felt I didn’t appreciate them enough like he did to bring them home in the first place. So I kept them. All these years. They never served a purpose in my life, but I know it made him happy to show them to me. Today, I kept them again. I still have that deep-down feeling, but I might give the rocks another use and make jewelry with them.
Just like the rocks, my dad loves marbles. When my sister and I were little and my dad would take us down to Florida to see his parents, we would play with the marbles his parents had. When I was in high school and looking for colleges, we visited this one that was in a small, hickish town. The town had a country store, which had a marble section where you would fill a sack with marbles and buy that sack. We filled up a sack and have never used the marbles, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them.
As I looked through more boxes, it was easier to get rid of some stuff than others. But every thing I threw away, I felt like I was throwing part of my childhood away, even if the item itself wasn’t a huge part of my childhood in the first place. I threw away so many things that I specifically remember from my childhood not because they were in front of me, but because they at one time brought enough joy to me that I couldn’t live without it.
I found a ton of notebooks and sketchpads that I had started but never quite filled up. One notebook in particular caught my attention. I used to love the show Unwrapped, and apparently I loved it so much that I took notes. In that same notebook, my fifth grade self also shit talked a ton without naming names before I even knew what an indirect was.
I found another high school art class project where we were required to destroy a book by destroying magazines to make collages in the book… I don’t know. Cool to this day, but it served no purpose and I wasn’t going to create collages on the other 200 pages.
I found autographs of bands from a Christian concert my church went to when I was a kid. I found a Christy Carlson Romano autograph from this one time in fifth grade when I won tickets to Beauty and the Beast on the radio. As cool as those autographs were, they just take up space now and I’m not gonna frame them or anything.
My mom gave me shit when I told her, but I got rid of my high school graduation cap, tassel, and cords. I’m not going to wear them again. I’m not going to frame them or put them on display. The only thing that matters is my diploma, which is safe in the aforementioned chest. I didn’t walk for my college graduation and I’m not missing not having a hat or tassel from that, so high school should be no different. I have a diploma and degree, and that’s all that matters. She understood and agreed once I gave her my reasoning.
I used to love Neopets so I obviously found a few things relating to that. I used to draw a lot, and I’m not going to lie, I was pretty good for a fifth grader. I didn’t take a picture of it, but I also had a drawing of Sophie the Swamp Witch that I copied from the cover of a Neopets magazine, which was damn good. I still love Neopets, if I’m being honest.
There are so many ceramic figurines of rabbits in the garage because I loved bunnies so much as a child. They’re not getting much use sitting in bins at the moment, but I figured that one day when I have my own house, they can sit on a shelf and overlook a room and be on display again like they once were. There’s one figurine in particular that I’ve always loved. It’s a mother rabbit holding two baby bunnies, putting them into bed. I always imagined it as my mother putting my sister and I into bed as children. The good thing is I still love bunnies so much, and I so badly want a use for them when I have my own space.
The hardest thing for me to get rid of, though, was stuffed animals. I know, I’m 22, but as a child, stuffed animals were my best friends. All through grade school, I never had a lot of friends. I’m not gonna turn this into some weird “stuffed animals were there for me when no one else was” type of deal, but there was a lot of comfort in coming home and sleeping in a bed full of stuffed animals. I’m honestly going to admit right now that it is still a great feeling. It feels like you’re surrounded by a ton of friends, and they’re always willing to give you company… Anyway.
I looked through the bin of stuffed animals and it was the happiest part of my day. I’d felt like such shit pretty much the whole day, literally throwing away my childhood. The stuffed animals were the last thing to look through, and I’d already filled two trashbags (I know, I made it sound like I kept more than I gave away (which is still true, but I’m just saying I got rid of a lot)) with things to either throw or give away.
For reference: until this point, I was getting rid of things that didn’t bring me immediate joy.
I looked through a massive bin of stuffed animals and could only bring myself around to getting rid of two (which I will give away, not throw away). In the bin were a few that I’d made myself. I thought it would be easier getting rid of those, but it was just as hard to decide whether to get rid of them, if not harder. I had a wedge of cheese I’d made, for crying out loud. But going through the stuffed animals made me realize they were the biggest joy of my childhood.
It was sad bringing the bags and loose items out to the trash can for one final goodbye. It was more than sad. Like I said before, I was throwing away my childhood. But I figured that with time, I would come to forget the items I threw away once more. It beyond sucks that almost everything met its end in a trash can rather than be recycled and bring joy to someone else, but that’s it. The sun will rise tomorrow and the day after, and after many suns risen, I will forget about those items I once loved so much.